This is a subject that I can write upon with feeling, not with the utmost of feeling because that would involve profanity and profanity is not euphonious; it is more expressive than instructive.
The literature of our school, as I have said on other occasions, is in a most untidy state. Our tools are all over and in many different shops. Some of them are hard to find at all. What should we think of a jeweller who kept shop as we do? Should we not get rather impatient waiting for our watch to be repaired? Then how about the poor soul who waits with utmost, suffering and humility while we must search and search to find something for his bellyache? It is not the pulling out of my repertory before the patient that embarrasses me; it is the fact that after patient and diligent search I remain as totally in the dark as before I cracked the book. “That is due to lack of skill in your use of it,” I can hear you say.
Many times, yes, but not always. I have seen a reputed master of Kent several times hard put to find what was wanted, only to make up an interpretation as a make-shift for what was sought. If homoeopathy is a science we can brook no makeshifts, at least by inexperienced hands and by novices. Naturally here is where the art comes in, but if we are to attract and hold newcomers, we cannot ask them at first to read between the lines and grab ideas out of a clear sky.
What is needed to work with the repertory is an index to the materia medica. The two would serve obviously different functions and would supplement each other. The purpose of a repertory is to enable one, by putting symptoms together, to find a group of remedies most likely to cover the case at hand. It is not primarily a source of information. It is primarily analytical and its contents somewhat dissected. An index would inform us where to look for everything butt would not necessarily give us a picture in the rough.
There are only a few fundamental material medicas, namely, the Materia Medica Pura, Chronic Diseases, Herings Guiding Symptoms and Allens Encyclopaedia of Pure Materia Medica. There is only one fundamental repertory and that is Boenninghausens Therapeutic Pocket Book. All other materia medicas and repertories are merely off-shoots of these, each gotten up to please the whim or definite idea of the author.
The index should be crossed to make it readily usable. Naturally this would be a lot of work, but so was the building of the Panama Canal, yet no one is sorry that he does not have to sail around Cape Horn. The various parts of a symptom should be crossed against each other. The parts that seem to me useful are the subjective or objective symptom, type, location, cause, modality, extension, precedence, concomitance, sequence and alternation. These should be indexed against each other. Abbreviations and references could be used to cut down space. The only other work that could be substituted for this is something on the order of Herings Analytical Therapeutics. It is a shame that this wonderful work was never completed. By means of an index we could readily find the information wanted.
Another difference would be that an index would not need to be as accurate as a repertory in that nonconfirmed symptoms could be admitted. It would need only to be suggestive, for an unconfirmed symptom might lead to a remedy for study and if that remedy fitted the case much time and suffering would be saved.
Everyone who has built up a repertory has rightly insisted that only confirmed symptoms be included. The Therapeutic Pocket Book is the finest example of this. Boenninghausen was uncannily accurate in his estimations. If we are to fit together the jigsaw puzzle of our patients symptoms, the parts must fit accurately.